Armed carjackers target South Philadelphia auto worker waiting to start shift

The shop manager said the victim had been waiting for management to open the garage.

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Armed carjackers target Philly auto worker waiting to start shift
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Police are investigating a pair of violent crimes in South Philadelphia where suspects appeared to target victims sitting in their cars.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Police are investigating a pair of violent crimes in South Philadelphia where suspects appeared to target victims sitting in their cars.

Both victims were held up on Saturday morning outside of their jobs. Police said the suspects took one of the cars.

Surveillance video shows a 32-year-old victim sitting in his 2002 Oldsmobile on the 700 block of South Jessup Street, outside of Pinnacle Auto and Tire. The shop manager said the victim had been waiting for management to open the garage.

As he's waiting, an armed teenager walks up to him, and according to the shop, asks him what time it is before pulling out a gun.

"(The suspects) politely asked him to get of out the car with a pistol to his forehead," said Tom Tafe, the general manager of the shop. "He proceeded to then give him his keys and said, 'Go ahead, drive away. You can take my car.' Anything to save his life."

Video shows another armed suspect hopping in the car and the two peel off.

Minutes before, on the 700 block of South 7th Street, police say a worker at Fitzwater Cafe was sitting in her car when two young suspects demanded the car at gunpoint. Police said the victim screamed and the suspects ran away.

"A lot of these times, they're just prone victims to carjackings because you're not paying attention to your surroundings," said Inspector Charles Layton from Philadelphia Police Department.

Carjackings continue to run rampant in Philadelphia with 50 so far in 2023. The Saturday crimes happened in the 3rd district, where, according to the Action News Data Journalism Team, carjackings are rare.

According to data, carjackings in the 3rd district happen at about half the rate in the rest of the city. Still, police say you shouldn't be complacent anywhere.

"You're sitting in an area you're very familiar with, you're sitting in your own car and you're looking down at what is distracting everybody nowadays, the cell phone," said Layton.

Police say often these carjacked cars may be used for other crimes.

"To be honest, I think they were just punks looking for quick cash...and anyone sitting in a car," said Tafe.

Investigators say neither victim Saturday morning was hurt. Police found the stolen Oldsmobile on Tuesday in Camden, New Jersey.